Smith’s arm, legs lead Jets past Browns 24-13

Rex Ryan wasn’t interested in discussing his future, whether he

even has one with the New York Jets after the season.

For a coach sitting squarely on the hot seat, Ryan was loose and

excited after what might have been his home finale at MetLife

Stadium.

Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes to David Nelson and ran

for another score and the Jets topped the Cleveland Browns 24-13 on

Sunday.

”I told you this team’s on the climb, it’s on the rise,” Ryan

said. ”I think it was pretty clear, at least to me, that that’s

what we saw today.”

With Ryan’s job status uncertain, the Jets (7-8) showed no signs

of a team playing out the string. The players and coaches took a

victory lap and high-fived fans after the game.

”We were picked to be the worst team in the NFL,” linebacker

Calvin Pace said. ”It says a lot about this team’s character and

the way we rallied under Rex. I guarantee you everyone loves

playing for Rex.”

Smith had his first game with at least two TD passes since

October, with no turnovers or sacks.

”No turnovers for him, so I guess he put his foot in my

mouth,” Browns safety Tashaun Gipson said. ”I have nothing but

respect for him after this game.”

The rookie was 20 of 36 for 214 yards and also ran for 48 yards

– including a 17-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter.

”A tremendous performance,” Ryan said.

Chris Ivory rushed for 109 yards on 20 carries for the Jets, who

were eliminated from the playoff picture last week. Nelson, cut by

the Browns after training camp, finished with four catches for 33

yards.

Ryan wouldn’t address a published report that he told his

players at the team meeting Saturday night that the ”word on the

street” is he’s out after next Sunday’s game at Miami.

None of the players would even touch the subject, saying they’d

keep those types of discussions behind closed doors.

”What I do know, guys, is that I’m coaching this team and my

job is to focus on the present, what’s right now,” Ryan said,

adding that he doesn’t know if he’ll be back next season.

Jason Campbell was intercepted twice as the Browns (4-11) lost

their sixth straight, and the offense was clearly hurt with star

tight end Jordan Cameron out with a concussion.

Edwin Baker had a touchdown run, and Josh Gordon was somewhat

held in check by rookie Dee Milliner, catching six passes for 97

yards.

”Things just started to unravel today, the whole thing that’s

been happening over the last month,” Campbell said. ”Being so

close and not finishing it, I think is kind of pressing on guys. We

just want to win so bad.”

With the game tied at 10, Nelson got his second touchdown catch

of the game on the second play of the fourth quarter, a 5-yarder.

Smith last threw at least two touchdown passes at Atlanta in Week 5

– on Oct. 7.

Two plays after Baker’s 2-yard touchdown run was nullified by a

false start penalty on Gary Barnidge, Billy Cundiff kicked a

21-yard field goal to make it 17-13.

New York took control with a drive of over 6 minutes capped by

Smith zipping up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown, his fifth

rushing score, to make it 24-13 with 3:19 left. The Jets converted

four third-down plays on the drive, including Smith’s TD.

Ed Reed intercepted Campbell in the closing moments to seal the

win.

”I’m not happy with that game,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski

said. ”It’s unacceptable. It was a tough game to swallow.”

The Jets scored twice in 78 seconds to tie the game before

halftime. Nelson capped a 13-play drive by catching a 6-yard pass,

and after the Browns went three-and-out, Smith got the Jets in

scoring position again, taking off for an 11-yard gain when was

shoved by Gipson out of bounds.

The quarterback appeared to embellish it, dropping to the

ground. But, the late hit angered the Jets’ sideline, including a

fired-up Ryan, and a few players on both sides shoved each other a

bit. It ended up being an unnecessary roughness penalty on Gipson

that put the ball at the 14.

Nick Folk kicked a 21-yarder as time expired to head into

halftime tied at 10.

NOTES: Umpire Butch Hannah left and didn’t return after

suffering an injury to his face late in the first half. He appeared

to make contact with Jets CB Antonio Cromartie’s right shoulder pad

as he was spotting the ball, and then stumbled into Jets DE

Muhammad Wilkerson before going down to the turf. … Browns NT

Phil Taylor has a concussion and DE John Hughes sprained a knee.

… Browns DBs coach Louie Cioffi injured a knee injury when he was

rolled into on the sideline in the first quarter during a play.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org